Bites, bears, and Badmaash-ups: The Best of The Taste 2016

The Best of The Taste 2016

What happens when you buy a weekend pass to the LA Times’ The Taste food festival? You gorge yourself on some of the best things you’ve ever tasted from some of the best restaurants LA has to offer morning and night.

We spent three dinner times, and two brunch times strolling through ALL the booths of 2016’s Taste of LA, and here’s our roundup of the very best bites…

Top 10: Savory

1. Baldoria‘s Chicken and waffle taco

2. Badmaash + Guisados‘ Carnitas/Vindaloo Mash-up

3. Aqui es Texcoco‘s Lamb barbacoa taco

4. Maple Block Meat Co‘s Brisket

5. Halal Guys‘ Gyro + chicken bowl

6. The Cannibal‘s Pork Pate Chaud

7. MB Post‘s Veal Liver Ragu Toast

8. Public School‘s PBJ slider

9. Chichen Itza‘s Beef and Pork Salbutes

10. Dog Haus‘ “Tiny Swiney” Pork Belly Hot Dog

Top 6: Sweets:

1. Ensaymada Project’s Ensaymadas

2. Jeni’s Black Cat Espresso Ice Cream

3. Hinoki and the Bird‘s Smore Ice Cream Sandwich

4. Kavalan Whiskey‘s Bear Cake

5. MB Post‘s “The Elvis”

6. LaMill‘s Warm Brioche Donuts

Honorable Mentions:

Spring‘s Vegan Ceviche

Little Pine‘s Broccoli Aroncini

118 Degrees’ Pistachio Pesto with Zucchini Noodles

10e‘s Lamb Chop

Belcampo Meat Co.‘s Beef Tartare

Taco Maria‘s Tostadita de Ceviche

Simbal‘s Chili Grilled Pork Ribs

Terrine‘s Country Terrine

Knead & Co. Pasta Bar‘s Meatballs and Polenta

Lalibela‘s Sambusa

Herringbone‘s Ono Sashimi

Manhattan House‘s Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Toast

Anyone else go to The Taste? What were YOUR top dishes?

6 dessert mashups that make life worth living

I have a sweet spot for stuff that are two things at the same time — like seaplanes and labradoodles — which means desserts that combine two awesome things absolutely make my life worth living.

If you’re in the LA/OC area, these are the six dessert mashups that you absolutely need to try…

The “Pie scream sandwich”

Play Provisions in Playa del Ray has a dessert that is two pie crusts, filled with bourbon-soaked blackberries, sandwiching vanilla ice cream. I made the same face as that dolphin when I saw it.

The Puffle

The Puffle at Cauldron Ice Cream is a blend of an ice cream cone, puff pastry, and a waffle. AND, when you order the S’more puffle, you add yet one other dessert into the mix!

Cereal-covered Ice Cream Macaroon Sandwich

One of the best/worst things to ever happen to me was moving within walking distance of Milk and their ice cream macaroon sandwiches. When they started covering them with cereal, I started coveting them daily.


Mochilato is gelato-filled mochi, and Mikawaya in Little Tokyo has several flavors of these delightful little balls of awesome. While you’re there, try their pomegranate chip ice cream too.

Warm Brioche Donut Holes
Not brioche, not yet a donut… These are fluffier and airier than regular donut holes. And, paired with La Mill Coffee‘s Madagascar vanilla cream, you’ll just about lose your damn mind.

Sprinkles Sundae

Do you sometimes feel like having a cupcake, but it’s also kind of hot outside, so you feel like having ice cream too? Sprinkles to the freaking rescue with either their Sprinkles sundae — ice cream between a cupcake top and bottom — or their Sprinkles Shake — two scoops of ice cream blended with a cupcake.

7 quick, good, and cheap places to eat on Melrose

So you live/work/find yourself on Melrose Ave during lunch or dinner time, and you need to eat on the cheap and quick. Here are the best places to grab a quick but also still delicious meal for cheap. I’m talking $10 and under on Melrose…

1. The Poke Shack

Stop by the newest Melrose cheap eats addition, The Poke Shack, and say “welcome to the neighborhood” with one of their Lil Daddy poke bowls for $9.50. Don’t feel like fish? No problem, you can substitute tuna or salmon for tofu, or get on of their acai bowls for $7.50!

2. Shefa

We’re basically obsessed with Shefa’s Mediterranean cuisine that’s made fresh daily (they even have gluten-free, kosher, and vegan options). This food is fresh, healthy, delicious, and more than expect, as they’ll bring out their Rainbow Platter, which is an assortment of veggie salads.

3. All About the Bread

All About the Bread is the sandwich place that replaced In & Out as #1 on my parents’ “must-eat while in LA” list. And their meatball sandwich is on MY “things to eat before you die” list. Every insanely delicious regular-sized sandwich is only $8.75.

4. Kawaba Rice Ball

This place is perfect for either a full meal on the cheap, or to grab a quick snack when you’re hungry and on the go — their rice balls start at $3.75!

5. Love Baked Wings

I’m not going to say that chicken wings are a healthy eating choice, but at least Love Baked Wings are baked instead of deep-fried… so there’s that. You can choose wings (5 for $7), big drumsticks (2 for $6), boneless (4 for $7), or their vegan chickpea wings (24 for $9!). Then pick the flavor, and the dipping sauce. Although the best thing on their menu, in my opinion, is their carrot fries!

6. M Cafe

When we need a healthy and quick lunch, we always get M Cafe‘s three salad combo for $12. But you can get their two salad combo, or a few of their delicious grain bowls, for under $10. I highly recommend their tuna salad — I don’t even like tuna salad, and I crave theirs, THAT’S how good it is.

7. Chipotle

I don’t really need to tell you about Chipotle, do I? It’s on the corner of Melrose and LaBrea — easy, quick, cheap, yummy.

What are your favorite cheap places to eat on Melrose?

Best places to eat in Ouarzazate when you’re sick of hotel (or set) food

All photos by @treatsandgeeks and @whatsmikeeatingnow
All photos by @treatsandgeeks and @whatsmikeeatingnow

We just come off a two and half week stay in Ourrzazate, Morocco, while filming a TV show. Granted, two and a half weeks is a small stay when compared to some people who have had to live in Morocco for months while filming. But, for two people who generally eat out for every meal, a couple of weeks felt like months when your restaurant choices are limited.

We of course ended up eating at a few restaurants several times, and some places only once for reasons. And thus have narrowed down the restaurants that are still in business (some of the “best of” lists are out-dated), and worth your time, and your per diem…

1. Jardins des Aromes

Carmelized Chicken Tagine at Jardin des Aromes
Carmelized Chicken Tagine at Jardin des Aromes

By far our favorite, and the favorite of the entire cast and crew. This restaurant is as classy as it is delicious. The staff was so sweet as to even keep the restaurant open late for us when we all got so comfortable (okay and a little drunk) that we didn’t want to leave. We recommend the briouates, and almost 100% of the cast would recommend the caramelized chicken tagine.

2. Restaurant Douyria

Pigeon pastilla, goat cheese and rosé.
Pigeon pastilla, goat cheese and rosé.

We ate here the second-most. In the evening, it’s walking distance from Berebere Palace, and the views of Ouarzazate from their terrace are always impressive, no matter how many times you go there. We tried a lot of animals there: pigeon pastilla (not surprisingly, the veggie pastilla was the winner in the pastille better), dromedary (camel), and kid (baby goat).

But the winner time and time again was their Moroccan salad and any of their vegetable tagine.

3. Accord Majeur

Steak and potatoes at Accord Majeur.
Steak and potatoes at Accord Majeur.

This place is right across the street from the Berbere Palace AND has great alternatives to all the usual fare (ie. tagines for days). So this was a winner winner chicken and steak dinner for most of the cast and crew, night after night. We recommend the steak and potatoes, and whatever wines the awesome servers recommend — we were always happy with that combo.

4. Habous

Chicken nuggets and fries at Habous.
Chicken nuggets and fries at Habous.

When you want to feel like there are more than just a smattering of people in town, head to Habous — in the middle of a lively town square (at night). And try not to scoff at me when I recommend the chicken nuggets. Yes, these chicken nuggets in Morocco are one of the best things you’ll eat, after you get sick of tagines. And also say hi to the cats — they’re as adorable as they are hungry…

cats at Habous

Hopefully these restaurants in Ouarzazate continue to stay open and serving delicious non-hotel food meals. And if you find more awesome places to eat, please leave ’em in the comments. Shukran!

Where to eat in Cartagena, Colombia

Tuna tartare and a side of water view at Marea by Rausch
Tuna tartare and a side of water view at Marea by Rausch


But wherever you pick, make sure it’s inside the old city.


Cartagena for amazing ceviche instead

1. La Cevicheria

Order a Small langostino, Ceviche pescado peruano, tortastadas with guacamole.

2. El Gobernador by Rausch

Amazing. The costa negra (Colombian-style black beef) with plantains and coconut rice was one of my favorite things I’ve ever had.

The costa negra!
The costa negra!

3. Pasteleria Milo

For desserts and wifi.

4. Demente in Getsemani

…if you’re already in that neighborhood.

5. La Vitrola

An old Cuban place. Our highlights were the coco de pie and mojitos.

Filete Camaronero at La Mulata
Filete Camaronero at La Mulata

6. La Mulata

A fish place for locals.

7. Marea by Rouch

Solid, but not quite El Gobernador level.

Make sure you try:

Drinking an Oreo granizado is like drinking heaven.
Drinking an Oreo granizado is like drinking heaven.
  • Ceviche — lots of it!
  • Pargo rojo with coconut rice
  • A granizada

Anyone else have any tips on where to eat in Cartagena? Leave ’em in the comments, and help other hungry travelers!

Make sure you try these 7 great restaurants in Bogota, Colombia

Cheers from the amazing restaurant scene in Bogota, Colombia
Cheers from the amazing restaurant scene in Bogota, Colombia

Bogota is an amazing foodie destination, and it’s really underrated. Kind of like New York, with South American flair. Here are the restaurants in Bogota that you NEED to try.

Where to stay:

While we’ve heard great things about Hotel Click Clack and the BOG Hotel. But we stayed at the Embassy Suites in Bogota. It’s a fairly nondescript business hotel, unremarkable, except for its fantastic location in Zona G. The G in “Zona G” is for “gastronomy,” and with good reason — it’s basically three square blocks of great restaurants. It’s also a cute little area to walk around, and the least scary place ever.

Eat at:

Camarones at Astrid y Gaston. Sauce was poured over hot volcanic rock. Like everything I had at this location, and the one in Lima, fantastic.
Camarones at Astrid y Gaston. Sauce was poured over hot volcanic rock. Like everything I had at this location, and the one in Lima, fantastic.

1. Astrid y Gaston

Not quite as good as the one in Lima, but I love Gaston Acurio. We just asked the wait staff to bring us “whatever they wanted” and ended up with an incredible (although a little too much fish) meal.

2. Masa for breakfast

Super-charming, and a great unexpected wifi spot.

3. Capital Cocina y Café in the Candelaria

It’s in the old colonial area that’s fun to walk around, and this restaurant is as adorable as it is delicious.

Perfect steak at Capitol Cocina y Cafe.
Perfect steak at Capitol Cocina y Cafe.

4. Central Cevicheria

5. Crèpes and Waffles

Here’s the thing, we were super-duper stoked about this chain. Crepes and waffles and wifi are my favorite things. But no other place had weirder hours (how is this place not open for breakfast?), spottier wifi, and even spottier service. But the waffles and ice cream are awesome.

6. Version Original, aka. VO

Ask to be seated upstairs and try the tasting menu, it was my favorite meal of the trip!

7. Andres Chia

The other ones are okay, but we’re still dying to go to the great real one outside the city!

Cafe y Jugo de Lulo!
Cafe y Jugo de Lulo!

Make sure you try:

  • Jugo de Lulo — Juice made from lulo, an exotic fruit with a citrus flavor
  • Coffee ice cream — Columbia and coffee, need I say more?
  • Arepa con Queso from a Cartagena street vendor — Delicious, because it’s all butter, mozzarella, and fried dough!

Spotted: Adorable reindeer cupcakes for Christmas!

Adorable mini reindeer cupcake is adorable!
Adorable mini reindeer cupcake is adorable!

I ran into these mini reindeer cupcakes the other day at an outdoor market in Usaquen, Colombia, and I totally fell in love. Not only were they adorable, the combo of sweet and salty was delicious. You should totally make these mini reindeer cupcakes for Christmas, or to bring to your next holiday party!

Here’s what you’ll need:

* Cupcake mix (these were vanilla)
* Frosting (the frosting was a really light and airy chocolate)
* Chocolate sprinkles
* Mini pretzels
* Candy eyeballs
* Red candy beads

Photo by @whatsmikeeatingnow
Photo by @whatsmikeeatingnow

As my one friend said when she saw them on the ‘ol Instagram account… “Spotted: My next Pinterest fail.” But I have faith in all y’all. I think you can make these pretty damn easily!

That’s no moon: it’s a Death Star waffle iron!

death star waffle iron

Think Geek’s Death Star waffle iron combines two of my favorite things: Star Wars and waffles! It’s so amazing that this thing exists in the world right now for an actual purchase price of $30, that I can’t even believe that this isn’t one of their April Fools jokes.

Let’s just take another look at this thing shall we…


As Think Geek put it: Come to the Dark Side, we have waffles.

The ONLY problem with this bad-boy is that it only makes one waffle at a time. Who wants to eat only ONE Death Star at a time? I’ll just have to buy four of these and use them all at the same time. Because I love waffles and I’m impatient.